- Sanjay, Sunderasan, Jayabharathi, Rajesh
The new academic year for the BVoc program (Bachelor Courses | AIAT) has just started at AIAT. STEM Land supports the practical for the Computer Science and Machine Learning program as well as the Integral Yoga components of the curriculum at our Udavi campus 3 times a week. This year 13 Bvoc students joined the program which is a 650% increase over the two we had last year. We were curious about what motivated students to enroll in this program and therefore decided to interact with the students to find out.
The main questions we were interested in were,
- How did the students hear about this particular Bvoc program?
- Why did they choose the Bvoc program at AIAT?
- Why did they not pursue alternate options for their studies?
The answers were interesting to us and some of what we heard genuinely surprised us. What follow are my (Sanjay) reflections from the interactions.
A surprising number of students decided on AIAT purely due to the reputation Auroville (Welcome to Auroville | Auroville) enjoys in the local community. It appears that Auroville truly does have a very positive image among people here. If it is associated with Auroville, it must be good and it must be high quality was their confident assertion. This was a sentiment echoed by their friends and close relatives as well. It was humbling to hear thisas it means we have a responsibility towards this trust in us.
Quite a few students are locals and they were already familiar either with C3SLD (C3STREAM Land Designs – (formerly Aura Auro Design) – LEARN, GROW, WORK, TEACH ) and the work done here or they were working with another Auroville unit who we support and interact with such as
- AIAT, Auroville Institute of Applied Technology – College (AIAT)
- Isai Ambalam School, Isai Ambalam School (wordpress.com)
- Thamarai, Thamarai Educational Projects
- Udavi school, Udavi School – for children up from 1st to 10th standard | Auroville
- NESS, New Era Secondary School – A CBSE affiliated school
They felt very positive about their past experience with Auroville outreach education and wanted this interaction to continue. They felt they had learnt and grown a lot in their interactions with AV entities and wished to continue their learning and growth here. They further believed this Bvoc program afforded them their best opportunity for their continued development as compared to any other offerings from the world outside.
Another big draw of the program was the relative flexibility of the program as compared to the rigidity they found in programs outside. The standard college insists on external forms such as students having standard 12th standard (rather than NIOS), or having completed 12th standard only in the PCM (Physics/chemistry/Math/CS) streams.
One student in particular came to this program at the end of considerable research. His grandfather visited STEM land, took time to understand what it is we do and how long we have been doing it, interacted with the youth, asked them a lot of questions, listened to their answers, synthesized their answers and then concluded that this was an excellent place for his grandson.
There were a total of 12 students of whom 5 were female and 7 were male. The fact that the program had some Gender balance was also gratifying as this has been something that STEM Land has actively worked towards.
More data on individual students is given below with the student name removed
Our reflections after interacting with the B.Voc students:
Sanjay: I reflected that we make an earnest wish that our actions enhances Auroville’s reputation and we do so joyfully. That the program is designed for personal growth and gives people a chance to learn what they are interested in transcendingrigid rules and regulations that only close doors.. It was heartening to see children who had studied with Sanjeev when they were in school have a chance to continue college with us 😊.
I was also much impressed with this grandfather and his approach and his willingness to go the extra mile and to not be led by marketing and size of campus. May his tribe increase. Hearing this brough to my mind the words of the Buddha from the Kalama Sutta Kalama Sutta: The Buddha’s Charter of Free Inquiry (accesstoinsight.org)
Sundaresan: I was impressed with the homework done by some of the students in choosing a college. When I went to college, all I did was look at CENTAC. I can relate to some of the students whose parents wanted their children to attend this program partly so they could be closer together. I felt more connected to them.
Rajesh: Volunteering to teach is a day-to-day activity for me and I don’t think too much about it or the impact that it makes, either on myself or on others. However, some parents were actually inspired by our spirit of volunteering and they decided that they wanted their children to continue their education in just such an environment surrounded by those who cared. Hence, I too am inspired to continue to volunteer and also to take up more responsibility with more or increased enthusiasm. I now feel very positive about mentoring one of the Bvoc students and also about handling the support-a-child program for Isai Ambalam. During my Shifu program, I had a mentor which gave me a feeling of confidence that I could handle any task that I take up. Now I get the chance to do the same for my mentee and I am excited about the opportunity.
Jayabharathi: I came to know that many of the students had never used a computer before and did not know any basics at all and they enjoyed working in scratch these last two days. The students expect this college to be different from all the others in the sense that practice will accompany theory. I was also impressed by the research they did in choosing a college. I felt they were also very responsible students in the sense that they had all done whatever was assigned to them by their respective mentor. I have great expectations from this batch and feel they can do great things. I wish them the best and look forward to further interactions with them.